Archived Story

Historic Austin theater prepares for busy fall

Published 9:33am Friday, September 9, 2011

AUSTIN — After a jam-packed summer, the Paramount is settling into a lighter shade of busy this fall.

The Paramount is closing out one of its most successful summers on record.

“It was nuts,” said Scott Anderson, theater operations manager. “It was really fun — busiest summer we’ve ever had.”

Quite fittingly, The Lettermen was one of the final shows of summer. The show almost sold out, except for about 20 seats, and Anderson described it as one of the biggest shows in recent history at the Paramount.

The near sellout came on a Monday night, which Anderson said is actually a good day for summer concerts because people are home after the weekend.

“It’s been a really busy summer,” Anderson said. “Most of it (was) quite successful.”

The fall upcoming 2011-12 season won’t be quite as hectic, according to Anderson.

“It kind of gets back to normal,” he said.

However, Anderson noted normal still makes for a packed season.

Fall features

Davina and the Vagabonds will kick off the Paramount’s 2011-12 performing artsseason Sept. 16. The band will feature Davina Sowers on vocals and piano with a unique blend of blues and jazz backed by drums, trombone, trumpet and standup bass.

Jennie Germain, executive director of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts, noted this is the second time Davina and the Vagabonds will play in Austin, and they’re back by popular demand.

“I’ve heard that she’s a really great performer — really engaging with the audience,” Germain said.

Flamenco dancer Deborah Elias will bring the styles of southern Spain to Austin. Anderson said the Twin Cities artist will feature a unique style and will be accompanied by Flamenco guitars.

World-class violinist Tracy Silverman will play at the Paramount Oct. 8.

“He is actually one of the best electric violinists in the world,” Germain said.

Outside the featured season

There will be other shows at the Paramount outside the performing arts season, as the building is rented out for community fundraisers and events.

“We seem to be getting more and more rentals,” Anderson said.

“It lets us bring the community in more,” Germain added.

One such show will be a rock concert scheduled for Oct. 15 put on by Underhill Promotions and Bookings. The concert will be the third put on by Brian Underhill in Austin. The concert was scheduled for the summer but was later pushed back.

“We really love what Brian’s done, because that definitely brings in young kids. … We just love that,” Anderson said.

Shows not put on by the Paramount, like Underhill’s shows, help because they bring people to the theater and keep it busy year-round.

“The Paramount gets used for lots of things: There’s weddings here and business meetings,” Anderson said.

Austin’s Got Talent will return Oct. 22, and entries are already being accepted. Up to 30 performers will get to showcase their talents with no entry fee.

“Any type of talent is welcome,” Germain said.

The Rose Ensemble will return to the Paramount for the third time Nov. 17. They’ll be doing workshops in the community the day of and the day before the show.

Anderson described them as a world-renown early music ensemble that has traveled the world. The ensemble has played twice before.

Building on success

Despite recent success, it’s not always easy. Germain said it’s often hard to know how many people are coming a show because many wait until the last minute.

“The challenge that we’re facing is now-a-days everyone’s buying their tickets right before the show,” Germain said.

The Paramount is looking to attract some young blood to the historic theater. Student tickets for anyone with a school I.D. will be $5 for all of the theater’s shows in the performing arts season.

“It’s an effort to try to get a younger audience to come see our shows, and also just to make it more accessible all around,” Germain said.

Tickets are typically $12 to $18.

Especially with the student discount, Germain and Anderson said the shows are affordable.

“We do really good stuff here and it’s reasonably priced,” Anderson said. “World-class stuff comes here.”

An early look at the holidays

Though Veldman and Friend’s show, one of the most successful Paramount shows, ended its run last year, the Paramount will have multiple shows scheduled to kick off the holidays.

“It was a phenomenon, that’s for sure,” Anderson said.

The annual Christmas in the City performance will be held Nov. 25, followed by Katie McMahon, the original Riverdance singer, on Nov. 26.

“It’s a nice way to kickoff your holiday season,” Germain said.

A holiday special hosted by 5 by Design will be Dec. 16. A VIP dinner with 5 By Design will be at the Hormel Historic Home.

The holiday season will close with a country-themed New Year’s Eve extravaganza.